Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jackson Glacier- Glacier National Park

After about a week of planning a close to home trip. We settled on some Summer skiing on the Jackson Glacier. We are the Skier Boyz and this is what we do. Welz has come up to Whitefish for a month to get some work done on his Hydrology thesis and to escape the SLC burn. We have plenty of H2O up here and Jay has been sampling it in all forms. He has influenced his ways on Stefan and I and we have broken the trend of climbing on All of our days off. 

Mt Jacksons shoulder. The Glacier is on the other side of the ridge shown

Hiking in the 7 miles to camp

Camp on Gunsight Lake w gunsight Pass in background.
Notice the 2000 foot waterfalls.
After some mountain biking and almost losing Stefan when he cased a gap jump we drove from Home through GNP on the going to the sun road. After a quick dip in Lake MacDonald we crested Logan Pass and dropped to the trail head above St. Mary Lake. We put our shit show together and got on the trail by 5:30 p.m., heading to the most concentrated area of Glaciers still existing in the park. You can see both Jackson and the Blackfoot glaciers from the road. They are receding into the highest north facing elevations and may disappear in our lifetime so I felt a urgent need to visit this special place. We hiked in 7 miles to the gun sight lake and set camp as the Full Super moon was rising.

Happy to be on skis and shorts in July

Dropping in on our first line Jackson Glacier saddle 7,800
Further down skiing the runnel lanes
We scoped the main glacier run from the road and headed there first in the morning. It starts at a saddle before the ridge climb to the summit of Jackson. We crossed under some big seracs and onto the main path leading to the summit. It felt good and comfortable to be on the skis again. We got a 1600 foot run before the glacier broke up and we climbed back up and under the seracs again. Jay spotted a nice patch that we climbed next. The climb was a lot longer than it looked from below. Its always this way on glacier terrain. Things appear closer and not as steep until you begin to climb. We got another awesome shot off Jackson's north shoulder. The run was 2,400 feet. It was a bit difficult to find our trail out and we quickly got slapped by how heinous the shwacking can be in GNP. Luckily the trail was found rather quick and we made for the Lake. We took a quick dip and hit the trail out. It was a smash and grab summer hit. 26 hours, 20 miles, 4000 feet of skiing, 500 mosquito bites, 3 Glaciers. Not a bad place to live.
Climbing up the second line off Jackson's shoulder 8,200
Blackfoot Glacier in background
Stefan finding his groove on the fine glacial corn
-Kid Buffalo

Friday, March 28, 2014

Just another trip to Roger's Pass

Boyz will be Boyz
on top of the Pearly Rock

When your trip starts spontaneously, it is always exciting.  When it goes well, it is the most rewarding.  Jay Wellz was on his spring break and hoping to find some moderate avalanche rating somewhere up in Montana or Canada.  We both saw that Roger's pass avalanche condition warning dropped to moderate.  A text message conversation was started.  I was reluctant, "do you think the snow will be good?"  Jay persistent " I can leave in 30 mins be there at 2:00 am" "You should rally".  

What could I say, when you want to go...  Jake was obviously on board the whole time and strong armed the drive there and back.  We left Whitefish at around 7:00 am. Jay got four hours of sleep.  Jake got up an hour early and drove to work to get his passport. 

Crossing the border we took fake names. Felix Helix, Todd Rathmussen and Stejan Hawkenson. We were only going to be over the boarder three days so we figured our Alias's would help our attitudes to survive and succeed this ski bum trip on Rogers Pass, Glacier Provincial Park. We pulled into the only open spot in the lot at the Pass around 2:00 and were touring by 3:00.  It was a beautiful day with not a cloud the sky.  The kind of day that allows you to see the immensity of the Pass.  

Skinning below Sir Donald on the Icilewat Glacier

Another look at this beautiful mountain
A nice afternoon tour on the Icilewat Glacier
Gotta love day light savings time
This spectacular, splitter weather didn't last over 12 hours. In the morning the skies went from grey bird into centimeters of accumulation. We moved from the Wheeler hut up to the Asulkan and heated up a warm sugar drink. It was hard to leave the warm hut as the winds blew outside deterring us from our intended plans of summiting Youngs Peak and skiing the Forever Young couloir. Feeling stuck on the summit in a whiteout we stuck to the mission. The route was tricky and it tools some tricks to manage the ridge. Stejan's Alaskan glacier cornice whipping trick helped us get safely to the top of the Beauty. It was go time, it even cleared a bit for us to get some shots of the glory line. 

Our final day we hoped to get in some new terrain and why not when this place is so Huge. The internet server was down in the Discovery Center so they shut down All of the Park except the permanent open areas.  Before driving back to Whitefish we climbed up the Connaught creek and up to Ursula Minor bowl, skiing some laps in a thick fog. 

Forever Young Couloir
Jay exiting the Forever Young Coulior

Stejan entering the couloir

To most people it wouldn't be worth it to go up into Canada for a ski trip with only a three day weekend when the drive time is twelve hours. For us it was plenty of time to explore some new drainages, ski exciting descents, visit AAC huts and share some leisure time. You don't know until you go has always been a moto of mine.  In the arrival of Spring it is always easier to let opportunities pass us by. We must not forget that a good attitude and a passion for adventure can make any day in the mountains be a memorable one. We have had an amazing winter so far and I feel there is more on the plate this season for the Boyz.

Leapin Stejans

Couloir fishing in a whiteout, yeah you remember uncle

Blog by: Todd Rathmussen, Felix Helix and Stejan Hawkensen

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Boulder Hut Adventures

As we all grow older the Boyz are getting spread thinner.  Alaska, Montana, Vermont, Babies, the high Seas and on the open roads. The Wasatch chapter has less dinner gatherings and smaller touring parties. New friendz are being made every day. It's the mountains that have brought us all together. There is a magic and a mystery we seem to be seeking. It's hard to put it into words why we do what we do. With what might take us from this material world into the deepest mystery of afterlife I wonder when I will see you again.

 The North star stay in its place giving us something to guide ourselves back together again.

This is an adventure that has brought the Skier Boyz and Bomb Snow crew closer together. 
A few quick flights in the heli gets the ten of us up and into the mountains where this mystery can really start to unfold.

 In this day in age documentation is at our fingertips. The talent and quality is amazing. 

 The local snow beast, Rosie follows a freerider down one of our ski lines.

Deep in the Purcell Mountains of Southeast British Columbia we look, point, and dream of lines to climb and ski.

 A world wide trend of warming winters has set this snowpack into a state of stability where timing is what makes the skiing good, with a little sun to soften the crust it's go time.

 Follow cam. This was one line that many of us skied. It was a fast figure 11 chute.

 Oh there's that snow beast. The family that owns and runs this back county hut have their two kids living, skiing, and home schooling up here all winter long. 

Boyz making the best of what we are given. There is a gem in the background. The Y. We tried to attempt it but it was on a day that got to warm. Roller balls and big settling wumpfs turned us around.  

 It's great to have youth with you.

 The mess hall. 

 Sometime you just have to look at lifes mysteries in a little different way.

 The mountains up here just go on forever. 

Boulder Hut Adventures owners, kids, staff, and the Bomb Snow Boyz saying goodbye to each other. For now.
Check the Video edit made form this Hut trip. Axel Peterson does amazing work!!

Where will adventures take you today? Will you find some clues to your mystery?
Much Love.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Asulkan Valley- Rogers Pass, BC

I have been known to squeeze a lot of adventure out of small chunks of time and I will have to admit that Gaelen and I nailed this trip! The timing and the conditions were impeccable. We booked the Asulkan cabin on Tuesday, got out of work at 7 p.m. Wednesday, ate breakfast in Golden, BC on Thursday and set off into the mountains before 10 a.m.

A nice sight...
The Asulkan Cabin is Plush! It kind of pricey by American standards, but the fees are well worth the experience of spending a night on these glaciers. The cabin has everything that you need minus a sleeping bag and food. The entire cabin is run on propane so you can light a fire by turning a dial. It sleeps 10 comfortably.
Ski in...Ski out to Youngs Peak
We climbed the 3,000 and 9 K in just two hours and were surprised to be staring at the summit of Youngs Peak at PB&J o'clock. We planned on climbing Youngs and skiing the 7 steps of Paradise the following day, but the skies were clear and the snow was fresh, a 3 inch dusting upon arrival. We had the daylight and the energy to push for the summit.
Arriving at the Cabin before noon, the sun was shining and our sights were set on the 7 Steps to Paradise
It is a 2,400 foot climb from the back door of the Asulkan to the summit cone of Youngs. A casual stroll amongst some of the most impressive peaks in North America. A dream come true, honestly. There were no open crevasses on the glacier. We didn't bring harnesses or a rope.
Impressive Peaks and inversion below. The cabin is below also in the middle of the picture.
We managed to skin up the headwall, which was a bit intimidating, but the conditions felt stable. Plus some sense of security of a tracked in skinner and 8 lines down. There are skinners everywhere on Rogers Pass. In this country the beer and gas are expensive, but the skinners are free. After a day pass and wilderness permit at the Discovery center.
Looking towards Sir Donald from the Summit cone of Youngs Peak
From the top of Youngs you have amazing views of Icillewat Glacier to the south and a feature called Witch Tower. To the north you can spot Rogers and the Swiss Peaks. You also have the option to ski is an impressive couloir that will make any Skier Boy drool called Forever Young. We chose to ski the straight forward descent off the North side known as the 7 Steps of Paradise which is claimed by Davenport as a 50 classic descents of North AMerica in his new book w/ co-authors.
2 skinners below the summit

Gae dropping in on her first "50 classic descents"

G ripping a lower step= really fun

Welcome to Paradise

Day one... So whats next?
The run was Amazing! We skied 3,500 feet of a smooth type of velvet, mostly surface hoar. The Headwall was glorious and the steps to follow kept the legs turning and earning for more. The skiing felt effortless and before we knew it we were 1,500 feet below the Cabin. We got back on the skinner up the Tree Triangle and were at the cabin in 40 minutes.
Looking back up at the Headwall of Youngs Peak
The next morning we packed up, said good bye to new friends and skied a mellow 1,800 foot run below the cabin to the base of the Triangle Moraine and met the skinner up the Saphire Glacier. Again this glacier did not have any open crevasses so we carried on unroped
Skinning up the Saphire col with Youngs Peak and the 7 Steps in the background. Follow the shade/ sun line.
The weather was spectacular once again and the sun hitting the eastern slope did not effect the snow conditions. We moved quickly up the slope and paused just to look around and appreciate the day and soak in where life has brought us. For me, in the winter, it doesn't get any better than this.
Up to the Cleaver on the Saphire 
We climbed another 3,200 feet to the Saphire col, checked out the Saphire hut up there. Which is bare bones, a structure with a bunk that sleeps 4, no stove. We ate lunch, watched other skiers on various slopes and ridges then decided it was time to ski ourselves. We descended the 20 degree slopes of the Saphire Glacier and down the Triangle Moraine for a 4,000 foot run to the valley floor.
Plenty of wiggle room here. 

Wiggles for Days... Sir Donald in the background
Canada, anyone?


Friday, January 24, 2014

Running Rabbit Traverse

       A popular traverse in Glacier National Park is the Running Rabbit Traverse.  It is located down past Essex on highway two, following the middle fork of the flathead river.  About an hour and twenty minute drive from Whitefish, MT.   After the road bends east towards East Glacier look for a left turn towards the fielding patrol cabin, right after the Snowslip cafe.  On the southern boundary of the park, the wind blows a little harder, and the snowpack a little shallower.  The good thing is the starting elevation which is around 4,400 feet  With our last rain event affecting elevations up to 5,000 ft, this was a good time to start a little higher.  The Marias pass area got lucky and only saw graupel falling at 4,000 ft.  The traverse is traditionally begun with the climb up to sub-shields, 6,996 then unto Mt Shields 7,131, Snowslip Mt. 7290, and finishing with Running Rabbit 7,674.  Nice mellow ridge climbing is what this traverse is about, with the exception of a short boot pack to the summit of Snowslip.  Staying up high and enjoying the views makes this pretty special on a clear day.  Many different ski options are available of every mountain on the traverse.  One could climb around 4,000 and just ridge traverse all the mountains easily, or drop some north facing bowls and rack up the vertical.  We choose southern and western slopes because they lined up more with our goal of getting back on the ridge, and it was January- thaw- corn harvesting condition.  The other logistics are the car drop off or the hitch hike at the end.  We choose the hitch hike. Getting down in daylight made it an easy pickup.  Also a good opportunity to heckle your friend hitching,  it only tacked on extra hour.  Depending what slope you ski off Running Rabbit would determine where you would want to leave a car.
     Last thursday looked like a clear day so Jake and I set our alarms and planned on doing the Running Rabbit traverse.  Trimming some weight out of our packs and making our sandwiches the night before.  Our friend Sam met at our house around 5:00 and we were off towards the park.  After coffee, an hour of driving, talking about snowpack, discussing route options, looking at my app Topo Maps which I love and endure criticism for, more coffee, we set off for sub-shields around 6:45 am.  We popped up over the railroad tracks and started the climb towards sub-shields among a beautiful alpine glow morning.  
Every time it's worth it.  The sun rises on Sheep Mountain.

Jake and Sam climb towards sub-Shields. 

About to drop in off Mt Shields, Snowslip Mt. in the background.  We took a short 500 foot shot down sub- shields to continue the ridge up to Shields.  The snow was crispy on top, shallow and faceted on the ridge, which made me worry about how good the ski conditions were going to be.  As soon as we dropped off the summit of Mt. Shields on the south face it was like spring corn skied a little bit to early in the morning, and just got better all the way down.

Jake noticing the snow improvement towards the bottom of South face of Mt. Shields.

A quick boot pack up Snowslip.

These  majestic goats got scared off by us and traversed onto the North Face of Snowslip. Which is mostly cliffs and appears to be un-skiable.

Then there's this guy..always out on a sunny day the formidable Mt. St Nick

The turns down the Southwest face of Snowslip were some of the best of the tour.  Between Running Rabbit and Snowslip is a large bowl that has many ski descents, one could spend a whole day up there skiing.  It was almost noon when we were down there.  It gave us the old sun anxiety so we busted up to the ridge real quick.

The Buffalo content, lumbers up the mellow ridge up to Running Rabbit.  Sam is almost on the summit in the background.

Sam starting the descent to the road off Running Rabbit.  Two large avalanche paths come off RR western face, one of them is snow slide gulch and it comes down to the road near the goat lick parking area.  These slides have the classic funnel shape, and different micro aspects and ridges within the paths.  We skied with caution  This side is guaranteed to give your money back with a nice 3,000 ft shot to the road.  Getting plenty of sun, we sussed a ridge that comes off the summit and stays out of paths and trends left.    We enjoyed ridge skiing in creamy snow while watching our roller balls trickle into the gulch. Then only 500 ft. of log jamming jackie tree horn style and we were at the road at 2:15 pm. We approximated around 7,000 vert skied, 8 ish miles, in about 7 1/2 hrs

Some parting shots, this is a tour I did later on this week with my neighbor Chris.  Here He is traversing the north face of Nyack Peak, a stimulating traverse.  

This is the South bowl that we skied off the summit of Nyack.  We then climbed back up to ski a north facing shot into Rescue Creek, bullet proof from rain, winds and sun for 4 grand.  Oh well, dig that east coast edging.  Praying for snow once again. -SB